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Quality Road tops Donn noms

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

Edward P. Evans’ 2009 Florida Derby (G1) hero Quality Road promises to be a heavy favorite in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) to be run Sat., Feb. 6 at Gulfstream Park on an outstanding afternoon of racing that also will include renewals of the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) and $125,000 Suwannee River Stakes (G3).

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Quality Road is the most accomplished on an imposing nominations list for the 52nd running the of the 1 1/8 miles Donn Handicap, and the son of Elusive Quality was very impressive tuning up for this engagement winning the one mile Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) on opening day by 2 ¾ lengths under regular rider John Velazquez.

Other accomplished South Florida-trained nominees for the race include Quantum Racing Team’s Mambo Meister, PARJ Stable’s Delightful Kiss, Hardacre Farm’s Kiss the Kid, Alex and JoAnn Lieblong and partners’ Duke of Mischief, William S. Farish and partners’ Grasshopper, Circle E Racing and partners’ Timber Reserve and Edmund Gann’s You and I Forever.

Two intriguing names on the list that would have to ship in for the race are Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farm’s 4-year-old Friesan Fire, based at Fair Grounds with trainer Steve Asmussen, along with Natalie J. Baffert and George Jacobs’ 4-year-old Misremembered in California.

Friesan Fire, winner of the Louisiana Derby (2) and beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1) (18th of 19), went wire-to-wire to capture the Louisiana Handicap last Saturday at Fair Grounds. The son of A.P. Indy was making his second start since going to the sidelines after a dull performance behind Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico in May.

Misremembered finished second last out in the Malibu Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. Bred by Bob Baffert, the chestnut son of Candy Ride won the Indiana Derby (G2) at Hoosier Park in early October and finished a game second, beaten a neck by Blame, in the Clark Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27 in his two previous starts.

Leading the nominations for the nine-furlong Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap are Castleton Lyons’ 4-year-old Gio Ponti, 2009 Eclipse champion turf horse and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) runner-up; IEAH Stable and WinStar Farm’s 5-year-old Court Vision, third in this race last year; and Starlight Partners’ 4-year-old Take The Points, winner of the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park last year.

The 63rd edition of the Suwannee River attracted nominations for 30 fillies and mares, including three each trained by Christophe Clement, Todd Pletcher and Michael Matz, and two for Rick Dutrow, including IEAH Stables and partners’ 4-year-old filly Stardom Bound, runner-up in the El Encino Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on Jan. 17.

Completing the stakes line-up for next weekend on Sunday (Feb. 7) will be the $125,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The nominations include Ammerland Stud’s Nordic Truce, J D Farm’s Bim Bam and Gary and Mary West’s Call Shot, one-two-three in the Dania Beach Stakes over the course on Jan. 16; and Lael Stable’s Lentenor, Barbaro’s full-brother that broke his maiden here on Jan. 20 for trainer Michael Matz.

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